By Mannix Porterfield
Make no mistake about it: Rep. Nick Rahall isn’t about to cave in to forces on Capitol Hill and yield to the clamor to reward illegal aliens in America with amnesty.
All Rahall need do is look at his family tree to reinforce his viewpoint.
“I’m opposed to amnesty for illegal immigration,” Rahall, D-W.Va., said in an interview Tuesday.
“We should not reward illegal behavior. Our nation, our state, has a rich and proud history of immigration. But past generations of immigrants had to abide by the law, and so should the current generation of immigrants. The law should apply equally and fairly to everyone.”
Congress is on break for the Fourth of July weekend, and there is no indication when, or even if, the House will begin to consider a Senate-passed immigration proposal.
Rahall doesn’t think the Republican-led House will be taken up in precisely the same language or manner.
And if it does, Rahall said he feels the GOP leadership will examine the issue in a piecemeal fashion.
Which means border security likely will be assigned the highest priority in a standalone bill.
“Everybody wants to tighten our border security, even though we’ve been doing a much better job in recent years and deporting more illegals than any time in our history,” the 3rd District congressman said.
“Nevertheless, we can do more, I agree.”
Both of Rahall’s grandfathers arrived in America virtually penniless and struggled hard for years before making their mark in the Beckley area.
His paternal grandfather, Nick Rahall, came in 1902, and spent fully a decade trudging from one coal camp to another, sleeping under the stars or with a coal mining family, selling linens off his back.
“Many immigrants did that in those days,” the congressman pointed out.
In 1912, the grandfather returned to Lebanon with enough money in hand to bring his wife to America in 1913, and the congressman’s father was born later that same year.
Out of his peddling business, the grandfather launched a 5-and-10 department store, and then developed that into a fashionable women’s clothing store bearing his name, on Main Street, just across from the Raleigh County Courthouse.
Then, in 1949, the year the congressman was born, his father, Nick Joe Rahall (and his namesake) took proceeds from the dress shop and opened radio station WWNR.
“He and his brothers took that into more radio/televisions stations,” Rahall said.
This became a publicly-held firm known as RCC, Rahall Communications Corps., as listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Based on his family’s experiences, Rahall said he remains strongly opposed to granting amnesty to 11 million immigrants within America’s borders in violation of the law.
“If we’re going to reward illegal behavior, that’s the wrong message we’re sending,” the Beckley resident said.
“It’s only going to exacerbate the problem. We’re sending the wrong message abroad if we keep waiving the penalties for breaking out immigration laws.”
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